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Posted on Aug 23, 2010 in Boardgames

World Boardgaming Championships – Convention Report

By Terry Lee Coleman

Dice were rolled, cards played, and counters moved at the 2010 World Boardgaming Championships sponsored by Boardgame Players Assocation (BPA). Photo courtesy BPA/WBC.

Earlier this month, yours truly made what has become an annual pilgrimage to the World Boardgaming Championships (WBC), held August 2–8, in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Philosophically, the WBC convention traces its origins to the venerable AvalonCon, which was founded on the premise that a convention based on competitive play of strategy games would find an audience. AvalonCon was discontinued 12 years ago, when game publisher Avalon Hill was purchased by Hasbro.

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This was not to be the end, however, as a group of gamers approached former Avalon Hill VP Don Greenwood with a proposal to form a new organization. Drawing from the professional talents they had available (accounting, legal, business, publishing, etc.), the group formed the non-profit Boardgame Players Association, or BPA, and with Greenwood installed as Convention Director, the new organization was off and running.

While the BPA runs a number of events both live and via email, its raison d’être is to host the WBC, which has been held in basically the same time slot (around the first week of August) since 1999. The convention started in the Baltimore area, but for the past several years (and for many years to come), has been held in Lancaster, PA, right in the heart of Amish country.

There are games for all ages at WBC.Although WBC is nowhere near as large as say, GenCon, or even Origins, it consistently draws around 1500 attendees. Rather than being restricted to games of one publisher (as in the old AvalonCon days), the more than 150 tournaments run the gamut from family and light strategy "Eurogame" fare to hardcore war games from a wide variety of publishers. There are special Juniors events for the kids, a game auction on Tuesday, and a lot of easygoing late-night gaming fare, such as Slapshot, which draws 200 or more crazy hockey lovers every year. The tournaments are run by experienced volunteer gamemasters, and unlike many other conventions, there is no need to buy separate event tickets. If you show up for the tournament on time with a copy of the game, you’re in.

Terry Coleman, author of this article, in a 'Warriors of God' 100 Years War game, previously reviewed on ACG.While this isn’t a show that debuts a lot of new games, MMP did have hot off the press copies of A Most Dangerous Time, by Tetsuya Nakamura (English development by Adam Starkweather, who brought us Warriors of God—see the ArmchairGeneral review). There were a lot of separate games going of the recent Richard III from Columbia Games (by the designers of Hammer of the Scots). And I got to play a couple of turns of the new The Fires of Midway from Clash of Arms, which at first glance, seemed even more exciting than its predecessor, Hell of Stalingrad. Finally, I tried to snatch a copy of Legion Wargames’ Ici, c’est la France! The Algerian War of Independence 1954-62, by Kim Kanger, but the nice folks at the booth told me they sold out in less than 2 hours …

Not to be denied, I also glimpsed a number of titles in development, such as MMP’s It Never Snows in September (INSiS), which employs Dean Essig’s Standard Combat System to portray Operation Market-Garden.

Block-game enthusiasts would likely have enjoyed Rick Young’s Fast Action Battles: Sicily from GMT. The company also showed off their upcoming Labyrinth: The War on Terror. There were a lot of political games to be had as well, such as John Poniske’s upcoming Lincoln’s War and the just-released Founding Fathers from Jolly Rogers Games (by the designers of 1960: The Making of the President), which seemed to be everywhere you looked.

The tournaments were competitive and fun, the open gaming was better-lit and well-attended this year, and everyone seemed to be having a great time. According to the BPA, this was the highest attendance ever for the WBC, despite the economy. All in all, a great week of gaming. I’ll certainly be back for more next year. Maybe I’ll even have time for that side trip to Gettysburg …

Terry Lee Coleman is former Senior Reviews Editor of Computer Gaming World magazine. He has written about board and card games for several years in such publications as Fire & Movement, Armchair General, and others. While raised in the South, he will admit to a certain fondness for Amish food.

Photos below provided courtesy of BPA/WBC.

10 Comments

  1. Hi Terry and thanks for the report on this event!!

    Did you see any Conflict of Heroes being played and any ASL as well by chance?

    Just curious if those two games were there, thanks

    Tom

  2. Hi, Tom,

    It used to get a lot of folks, but No ASL at WBC any more. I think it is at least in part because there are a number of established ASL events around the US.

    But there were several other war game tournaments at WBC, including one for Conflict of Heroes.

    Cheers,
    Terry

  3. Terry,

    Good report! One correction though. A Most Dangerous Time has been out for a while, King Philips War and Special Operations #3 (with Starvation Island and Fury in the East) were the products that MMP debuted at WBC.

    See you next year.

  4. The photo is not the 2010 WBC since there was no ASL there.

  5. Michael,

    Can’t say for sure, since I think the photo you refer to is one supplied to us by the WBC folks. But I can say that there were games of ASL and at least one of the ASL Starter Kits in open gaming, for what that’s worth.

    Cheers,
    Terry

  6. Gary,

    Yeah, I should have mentioned Special Ops # 3. Also, I think I was under the impression that A Most Dangerous Time had been reprinted. So, just a mistake on my part. Sorry about that.

    Still, I enjoyed our Warriors of God game :–)

    Cheers,
    Terry

  7. The photo is from WBC 2007 or 2008. I recognize myself playing Mr Beyma in Russia Besieged in the lower right corner,

    thanks, Randy

  8. Terry,
    You should have at least mentioned the apparent invincibility of the 1931 Philadelphia A’s in Superstar Baseball!! Good article

  9. Thanks for the info Terry, did you get a chance to watch the CoH game by chance, it was a “championship” type tourney as well, “Bear, Kursk or both perhaps?

    Also did they preview any of their new stuff coming out?

    And last but not least was there the new kursk game there for the Panzer Grenadier series that is coming out soonish? I think.

    Cheers, ya I gotta thing for Kursk

    Thanks again

    Tom

  10. The WBC was the highlight of my gaming year as always. I split my time between tournaments of hard core wargames (Russia Besieged, Breakout Normandy, Victory in the Pacific, Russian Campaign) with light open gaming (Founding Fathers, Dixit, etc.). I even put my toe into a Euro tournament (Caylus) where I got trounced, but apparently did well for my first ever game of it. It’s great to see old friends and meet new people who have been only an email address before. I got a look at a few new games as well, including Grand Fleet. We even had a party for those who had been awarded 6th place plaques over the years. For gameaholics it’s an event not to be missed. Some worry that it would be too ultracompetitive, but this is almost never the case. The Sportsmanship Award is the most prestigious given at the event.

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